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Appliance Repair vs. Appliance Replacement

When it comes to appliance repair or appliance replacement, there are several questions that need answered before you decide to tank it or crank it. Throwing good money after a bad home appliance doesn’t fix anything. Consider these questions first:

What Type of Appliance and Just How Broke is it?

Is the broken appliance a computer or a camera, a lawn mower or a snow blower, a rice cooker or a range? Next, read the appliances’ manual or locate a manual online and try the easiest, obvious and least expensive fixes first. If your appliance still does not work, you may be able to return the part to the store where you bought it. Other appliances can be easily fixed with a new plug, a light bulb change, a new water filter, dryer lint trap cleaning or a vacuum dirt bag emptied.

What is the Expected Life Cycle of the Appliance?

All appliances have a “drop dead” date; nothing lasts forever. Check online lists for standard estimated appliance life expectancy to determine an average life cycle for any particular appliance. You can even search for the most reliable or least serviced brand names. You may be surprised to learn that an average dishwasher is 9 years, a refrigerator is 9 to 13 years, trash compactor is 6 years and a window air conditioner unit is only 5 to 7 years.

What are Repair Costs vs. Replacement Costs?

Old appliance repair and new appliance replacement costs vary, while a YouTube DIY is practically free. Generally speaking, if the appliance is over 50% of its life cycle or if repairs will cost 50% or more of buying a new appliance, your appliance should be replaced rather than repaired. If you have basic repair or service knowledge, you may want to attempt the easy fixes talked about in question 1 and move on to DIY. However, use caution! Most appliances that are under warranty require a factory authorized service center to make repairs, and those making repairs that are not authorized, could void your warranty.

Does the Appliance Warranty Still Apply?

Again, check your manual for warranty information including labor and parts coverage, extended coverage elected at time of purchase or other specific perks. Can’t find your manual? Search online for the make and model of your appliance. Is the company still in business? In particular, some off-brand names may have gone extinct, which likely will void your warranty, unless other specifications are stated.

Is the Old Appliance an Energy Efficient Model?

If not, make sure the new one is. If you have money to replace your broken appliance or simply can’t resolve your repair-or-replace impasse, when shopping for a home appliance, look for qualified Energy Star Efficiency makes and models. The energy savings alone may help pay for the appliance in the form of lower monthly energy bills, less water usage or greater performance efficiencies.

Bonus Tip: To help offset the cost of a new home appliance, sell your old one first. For instance, sell you old vacuum cleaner because after all, it’s just sitting around collecting dust.


Elaine Ozimok Valpak

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